Raphael Abi-Rihan spent the year on the sidelines of the Jiu-Jitsu calendar’s main events. A knee injury put the brakes on the Carlson Gracie black belt. However, in the fighter’s point of view, that doesn’t mean it was an unproductive season. Quite the contrary. Find out why in this chat he had with GRACIEMAG.com.
Do you plan to compete more in 2011?
Competition never was my main focus. Competing to me is leisure. This year I recovered from my knee injury, but even so, I competed on two occasions and won. I wasn’t at the big events, but I want to appear in more of them in 2011.
What do you have in mind?
There’s a good chance I’ll compete at the Worlds and I’d like to start competing in No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu again, which I haven’t done in seven years. I can’t participate in all the international events because I have a lot of work to do here in Brazil, but the Worlds is something I’ve been planning. Besides that, I may show up in some other things as well. I’m always well trained.
You spent a year taking care of injuries. Has that frustrated you a lot?
No, because I got to take care of my team and the competition I promote here in Rio, Copa America. I recently held the promotion party for my academy (Família Abi-Rihan), at Monte Líbano club. In all I promoted twenty people, from yellow to black belt. It was a really emotion-filled party.
Speaking of Copa América, how did the competition go this year?
I’m really proud and fulfilled. I put together a staff of fifty people who literally sweated up their uniforms to make the tournament one of the friendliest I’ve ever seen, on December 4. We managed to keep up the quality of the event and we met the number of athletes we’d expected, even with the problems our city went through the week before and the thirty-five-degree (Centigrade) heat.
Check out a list of the standouts from Copa América 2010 below:
Blue belt: Carlos Serpa (Nova União).
Purple belt: Gustavo José (Gracie Humaitá).
Brown belt: Friends João Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighter) and Leonardo Saggioro (BTT Juiz de Fora) closed out.
Black belt master: Antônio Borges (Carlson/Abi-Rihan).
Overall team result: Carlson Gracie, Nova União, Beija-flor, BTT and Brasa.
Highlight: MMA and muay thai fighter Vitor Miranda won his three ultraheavyweight blue belt matches without much trouble.